Sunday, April 10, 2005
Pulitzer Recording Endowment
I love Frank Oteri's idea about having recordings of Pulitzer winning pieces made close on the heels of the awarding of the prize to capitalize on the media attention. I don't think diverting existing funds is going to fly, however, so this would need to be done with the establishment of a new endowment at the very least, of not a larger corporate structure. Here's a first draft of a way to handle it:
Ideally either the Pulitzer people themselves or the Columbia music department would provide the structure, human resources, and fundraising program since Pulitzer is run by Columbia anyway. But I don't know that the Columbia development office would be interested in using its resources for a project like this since it doesn't obviously benefit the institution or that the university as a whole would be interested in branching out. So plan B -- A 501c3 organization (I'll name it here "Pulitzer Recordings") is founded by concerned parties and makes a partnership arrangement with Pulitzer so that it can use the Pulitzer name. A fundraising effort is made by Pulitzer Recordings to raise enough money to establish an endowment. Every year when the prize is announced, Pulitzer Recordings assembles an ensemble of appropriate proportions and makes a professional recording of the winning piece (if the endowment is large enough, also recordings of the runners up). Pulitzer Recordings then releases the CD -- profits are split between the composer, the ensemble, and the Pulitzer Recordings Annual Fund. The Pulitzer Recordings Series is available by subscription so that if you sign up you automatically get the new CD shipped to your house (or your university library) every year and your credit card is automatically billed -- the goal of this piece of it is to establish PR as The Way To Get Your Annual Dose Of New Music.
The chief barrier here is financial, but I would bet that this organization would have a lot of sex appeal to arts-oriented philanthropists. Major organizations like Meet the Composer might be interested as well, not to mention the NEA. There are any number of details to be ironed out and questions to be answered (what if the composer doesn't want to give PR the right to record the piece? How large does the endowment need to be to support the required flexibility of the organization given that one year PR would be recording a string quartet and the next an opera? What about when pop music starts winning and BMG or Sony or whoever doesn't want to allow a rerelease of the album under the PR brand? What sort of staffing and annual operating expenses are we talking about? And so on.) but here's a starting point. My day job is in development, so I have easy access to people who are smarter about this sort of thing than I am if anybody thinks this is worth pursuing.